Tuesday, November 06, 2007


By John Ceceri (with help from Kathy Ceceri)

Why are Lego toys so much fun? It might be their bright colors. It could be the cool themes such as Star Wars, Bionicle (a mystical storyline about biomechanical warriors with magical masks, with related books, movies and comics), Exo-Force (a line where humans take on robots wearing giant battlesuits) and others. Or maybe it’s the playability that lets you can take apart a set and make a whole new model. Whatever the reason, Lego has a giant fanbase, from 5-year-olds to Adult Fans of Lego (AFOL). And those fans have made several websites about their favorite subject: chat rooms, databases and even “my own creation” (MOC) sites, where you can upload pictures of Lego models you’ve designed yourself. Although most sites are for AFOL, there are some just for younger fans. Here are my favorites:

I had been a big Lego fan for a few years when I discovered Lego.com, the official Lego website, at age 11. Lego.com has good places for fans to talk to each other, post photos of models they’ve made, and see new Lego sets. It also has Lego Factory, a part of the site where you can download software which lets you make a 3-D drawing of a Lego model, then upload it to Lego.com and show it off, or even buy your model. In the Pick-A-Brick section, you can buy single bricks instead of a whole set. And you can even enter in codes from Lego Bionicle and Exo-Force sets to get cool online stuff!

For a while I posted on Lego’s message boards, but it wasn't long until I started looking at the fansites, especially those for kids. BZPower is the main Bionicle fan site with over 37,000 members, and the top Bionicle news source. Members discuss topics like the most heroic heroes and villainous villains or which set they regret getting. My own websites -- Lair of the Piraka (a Bionicle forum) and The Robot’s Workshop (an Exo-Force forum) -- don’t have many members, but they are starting to get more.

For AFOL, Eurobricks has large forums to post in and the latest Lego news. And the news from Europe often includes photos of sets that haven’t been released yet. Some sites won’t post leaked images, some forbid even discussing the future sets, but they sure are tempting. A tip about posting in general: make sure you follow the rules, such as not creating duplicate topics or adding to “zombie topics” (topics that haven’t had new posts for a long while). Some of these sites will ban you if you don’t.

Brickshelf is a photo-hosting website just for Legos, where the tags include train layouts and snapshots of the Legoland theme parks. But most MOC sites let you post photos and get comments on them. MOCpages features large models like the diorama combining characters from Indiana Jones, Dr. Who, and H.P. Lovecraft, or the Blacktron Intelligence Agency, a space base that takes up four tables. From Bricks to Bothans, the main the Lego Star Wars fan site, also has photos of Star Wars MOCs and a forum where members can comment.

Then there are Lego databases like Brickset, which lets you search by theme or year, going back to 1961. Members can keep track of all the sets they own -- and make wishlists of the ones they want. Brickwiki, which is (as the name suggests) a wiki about Lego, has information on its history, themes, and famous people (according to Lego fans), along with different building techniques such as SNOT (“studs not on top” – in other words, upside down). There are also links to all the other major Lego sites.

From grandfather clocks to harpsichords to automated factories that use Lego Mindstorm computer technology to build cars out of Lego pieces, there’s practically nothing that hasn’t been made out of Legos. Professional Lego model builders can make you a Bart Simpson or a mosaic of the Mona Lisa to order. But perhaps one of the strangest projects is the Brick Testament, where a minifig Adam and Eve live in a Lego Garden of Eden. Maybe the best part of Legos is that, no matter what your interests, it’s so easy to join in the fun.

Family Online Picks:

LEGO.com www.LEGO.com

BZpower www.bzpower.com

Lair of the Piraka http://z3.invisionfree.com/Lair_of_the_Piraka

The Robot's Workshop http://s8.invisionfree.com/The_Robots_Workshop

Eurobricks www.eurobricks.com

Brickshelf www.brickshelf.com

MOCpages http://www.mocpages.com

From Bricks to Bothans http://www.fbtb.net/

Brickset www.brickset.com

Brickwiki http://brickwiki.zapto.org

The Brick Testament http://www.thebricktestament.com/

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